It's Valentine's Day! Which, at this point in my life, who really cares right? Don't get me wrong: I am grateful to have found someone to love who is a fantastic partner and father, but it still feels like a manufactured holiday. This is good for said partner. It means my expectations are non-existent. That lucky, lucky guy.
I remember in high school, during the lead-up to every Valentine's Day students could order carnations of different colours (red for love, yellow for friendship, some other colour for a crush) and have them delivered to a person's homeroom. My self-esteem is still slightly bruised from the experience of sitting there for 5 years and never receiving a red carnation. Or even the crush colour. I got yellow from my friends once, I think. I was a late bloomer. It happens.
But my sad, pubescent love life is not really relevant on this lunch blog. The reason I bring it up is that I find kids and, yes, that includes teenagers, put a lot of stake in Valentine's Day. My youngest went off to school this morning, dressed in fetching shades of pink, her Valentine cards in her backpack with Hershey Kisses carefully taped on top.
My middle-schooler dressed and did her hair extra carefully in anticipation of attending a Much Music dance party at her school today.
And my high-schooler...I frankly have no idea what's going on there. He's 14 and male so communication is not his strong suit right now. There could be carnations, and a tender, bruised ego, but I will never know unless it makes it on to Facebook. That is reality.
Because kids are kids and they like to celebrate every "holiday", I have always made an effort to include something special in their lunch bags on Valentine's Day. In past years, I have cut heart shapes out of sugar cookie dough and lovingly decorated them. I have baked decadent brownies, also cutting them into heart shapes. I even have a giant heart-shaped cookie pan that I usually crack out at this time of year to make a really large chocolate chip cookie and then decorate with appropriately gushy decorations.
Guess what I did this year? Threw a few leftover Hershey's Kisses in each of their lunch bags and called it a day.
I don't think I ever appreciated how much extra time working from home afforded me to do the little extras. In between writing projects I could easily whip up a batch of brownies, it was no biggie. Now that I'm working a traditional work day in an office, and trying to run kids to activities, get errands done and everything else in the evenings, time is a scarce commodity. Last night when I got home at 9 p.m., I did bake red velvet cupcakes, but they are for dinner with friends tonight. The kids are under strict orders to NOT TOUCH THE CUPCAKES. At least until after dinner tonight. And those cupcakes that I made? They were from a box.
I actually have a red velvet cupcake recipe that I love, but I just did not have the will (or the red paste food colouring) to make it happen. It's fine. These days I do what I can and the kids are fine. They know that love doesn't hinge on home baking. So today they will open their lunches to Hershey's Kisses and, whether the day is leaving them feeling blessed or bruised, I know that they will be happy for the surprise.